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‘Read to feed your mind. Write to free your thoughts. Speak because your words matter.’

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                                      Spelling Shed - Spelling Shed - The Science of Spelling

At Elmgrove Primary School and Nursery, we strongly believe that the successful acquisition of the skills taught through the English curriculum form the building blocks for children’s learning in all aspects of the curriculum. To this end, we use a topic-based curriculum which enables the children to become competent readers and writers in wide range of genres.

English is taught every day across the school, from Years 1-6, either as part of the current topic work or as part of a unit of work based around a particular genre. Non-fiction writing is introduced through the current topic to make it relevant to the children. Drama and presentations are included as part of the units of work where appropriate. The curriculum is planned so that there is consistency between all the classes in the year group. Writing books are used from Reception to Year 6; however, when appropriate, work will be included in a topic book as part of the unit that is being covered.

Grammar, punctuation and spelling are taught across the school as part of the study of English. Individual lessons are also taught where it is appropriate to consolidate the learning.

The needs of minority groups are being met by a range of strategies, including texts that represent our diverse world and author studies from different cultures and displays around school. 

How Reading Is Taught

How Reading is Taught

At Elmgrove we deeply value reading as the foundation for all learning across the curriculum and we look to foster both reading skills and a love for reading in and of itself. The books we read to and with the children (please see our ‘Reading Rivers’) are language-rich, culturally relevant and appropriate to our topics. They also inspire meaningful writing.

The teaching of reading will include:

• The teaching of phonics
• Questioning about character, story, events, structure and plot
• Developing an awareness of the layout and features
• Making predictions about the story
• Developing decoding skills for unfamiliar words
• Awareness of the reading and spelling of common exception words or tricky words
• Deducing meaning from the context and from previous experience
• Scanning the text for information and to support comprehension
• Discussing the effectiveness of the chosen language and the style of the author
• Encouraging clear speaking an expression when reading the texts aloud.
• Providing opportunities for the children to self-assess their own reading and to write book reviews to share their opinions with others

Phonics – Read Write Inc

At Elmgrove, we want to ensure our children grow as confident readers and writers. We subscribe to a phonics programme called ‘Read Write Inc’ to teach both reading and writing.

In Nursery, children become familiar with and are taught to recognise the pictures on the cards that they will use in Reception to help them learn their sounds.

As soon as children start Reception we begin teaching them to read. We teach children in Reception and Year 1 to read and write in progress groups once they have been taught the first 16 sounds.

The children begin by learning to identify sounds that single letters make. For example m, a, s, d, t

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We also teach children to read words using the sounds that they have learnt by blending the sounds together. For example, they can read s-a-d, m-a-t, g-o-t.

By the end of Reception, we expect all children to know the sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 special friends (diagraphs - 2 letters representing a single sound, such as sh).

In Year 1, as children progress through the programme, they learn further special friends; diagraphs and trigraphs (3 letters representing a single sound, such as igh). Children learn to blend the sounds into words, read exception words (red words), learn correct letter formation and learn to spell.

By the end of year 1, we expect all children to respond speedily with the correct sound to graphemes (letters or groups of letters) for all 40+ phonemes, including, where applicable, alternative sounds for graphemes and read common exception words.

By the end of autumn term in year 2, we expect all children to read longer words speedily and unfamiliar multi-syllabic words. They are able to read at a speed of 80-90+ words a minute.

Children learn to read books that match the sounds they have been taught. They read these books in school three times to build accuracy, fluency and understanding. Children take them home to read to their parents.

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Fred Talk

Fred the frog only says the sounds to the words and the children then are encouraged to blend the sounds to make the words. Throughout the programme, we encourage children to use Fred Talk to identify the individual sounds in a word and to help them blend accurately. When reading at home with children, if they struggle to read a word, encourage them to identify any special friends (diagraphs or trigraphs), use Fred talk (sound out) and say the word.

Reading book levels

As children progress through the programme, they will be working through different levelled books which help them practice new sounds and words taught in class. Below is the list of coloured levels and the term children should be on these levels in order to be working at the national expected standard.

Home Learning

All children working on our phonics programme will be allocated books to read at home through Oxford Owl. The books allocated have already been read in class so reading at home is revision of what has already been completed in school. There is also a number of quizzes for children to complete in order to support comprehension skills when reading the books. Teachers will set activities weekly for children to complete.

Children will also take home a Book Bag Book. These physical copies also support learning in class, however stories are new for the children to read at home.


Reading for Pleasure

We also promote reading for pleasure. Children have access to rich texts in the school library and book corners and visit the school library every fortnight where they can borrow books to take home. We also have a book fair which visits every 6 months.

Reading feeds the imagination, it expands

horizons and offers new and exciting ways of

seeing and making sense of our lives and of

the world around us.

Michael Morpurgo


Phonics Screening

In the summer term, nationally, children are tested on their phonic knowledge. The testing helps to identify any gaps in phonics knowledge which can informs the school who needs further support in Year 2. The test is very relaxed and completed with the child’s class teacher to make it stress-free for the children.

The test consists of 40 words, both real and nonsense words (alien words). We encourage children to use their phonics knowledge to sound out the words before saying them.

Parents are then informed whether children have passed in line with national expectations in their end-of-year reports.


More information

Reading at home booklets 1 and 2

Complex speed sounds


In KS2, the children from Years 3-5 complete Destination Reader lessons. Destination Reader is pedagogical based approach to teaching reading through engaging daily, structured sessions that support children to read with greater understanding, enjoyment and purpose. Destination Reader pulls together all the strands that comprise good comprehension. In Year 6, the teaching and learning builds upon all the knowledge acquired in the preceding years and pupils apply this in preparation for the KS2 SATs.

Lower Key Stage 2 Destination 2 Bookmark

Upper Key Stage 2 Destination Reader Bookmark

All the pupils in KS2 also have access to ‘Oxford Reading Buddy’ which supports their reading and provides a wide range of both genres and authors for them to read. Year 6 also have access to iHub provided by First News, which develops reading comprehension, writing, vocabulary and oracy skills, whilst also giving them the opportunity to learn about the main news stories from around the world.

The pupils in KS2 (including Year 2) also have access to Accelerated Reader, through which they complete quizzes on the books they have read each week at home, in the library or from the book corners. Accelerated Reader assists pupils with reading skills and represents a consistent means by which we assess the pupils’ progress in reading. We are also fortunate to have our ‘Early English Speakers’ in KS2 supported by our EAL specialist.

Whole School

Children across the school visit the school library at least once a week to choose two books to read both in school and at home. One is intended for pleasure and the other pitched at the level that is appropriate to the pupil. The books in the library are well organised and the librarian is skilled in directing the children to an appropriate range of reading material for their age and reading ability where appropriate. We encourage and enjoy reading aloud to children at Elmgrove too (and children reading aloud too with KS2 learning poetry off-by-heart). High quality texts from our well-resourced book corners are shared each day, all of which can be seen celebrated outside the classroom entrances.

We are committed to embedding a love for reading and providing our pupils with the best start at Elmgrove. Please see below for some good advice on how to help your child further:

Oxford Owl Top Tips

Home School Reading

We foster a wider family involvement in the children’s reading routines by keeping them informed of their child’s progress in reading and by having reading workshops which give them ideas on ways that they can help their child to become a confident reader. We also share the practices of how we support the children in reading in these sessions. The children are asked to read at home as part of their home learning and the parents are encouraged to comment in either the reading diary or the homework diary.


Pupils are assessed against the National Curriculum objectives for their year group.

Within each band, your child could be assessed as working:

Well Below Expected = working on objectives in a previous year group

Below Expected = beginning the objectives within the band 

Expected = working within the objectives within the band

Above Expected = secure in the objectives within the band 

At Elmgrove, we identify children who are working below the expected standard and provide additional support to allow these pupils to reach their potential. This support could include: focused teaching groups, interventions led by teaching assistants, one to one and small group tuition or teacher led booster groups.

We value parental input too. If you would like to know what you could work on at home with your child, please see your child’s class teacher.


In the EYFS at Elmgrove, we value the importance of the characteristics of effective learning which underpin the teaching of the prime areas of learning of which, the development of the ‘speaking and listening skills’ of our children form a vital part of their ability to develop both their reading and writing skills as they progress through the school. If you would like more information on these areas please click on the link below:

Development Matters 

The EYFS curriculum at Elmgrove is designed to reflect the needs and interests of the children and provide opportunities for them to read and write both formally and informally. Phonics is taught formally from the beginning of Reception and the children are placed on the reading scheme when they have acquired the basic skills necessary to begin to sound out simple words.

Please talk to your children at home using sentences and read to them every day. This will help them to become enthusiastic readers who have the vocabulary to become independent writers.

The children in Reception are assessed using Development Matters. You are welcome to talk to your child’s teacher at any time if you have any concerns about their progress. You will also have the opportunity to attend a number of workshops during the year which will provide ideas on to how you can help your child at home.

At the end of Reception, your child will be assessed against the Early Learning Goals and you will receive a copy of this as part of your child’s end of year report.


In the summer term in Year 1, your child will be given a phonic skills assessment which will inform you if your child is able to use their phonic skills at the level expected by the end of Year 1. You will be able to attend a phonic workshop during the first term in Year 1 which will provide ideas on how to help your child at home.

It is important that you say the sounds correctly to help your child. Please click the link below to find out how to say the sounds correctly. Also included is a link to how children learn phonics. Please click the link to see how this is tailored to our school.

Phonics Made Easy

How Children Learn Phonics

At the end of Year 2, your child will sit a test in reading comprehension that tests their understanding of both fiction and non-fiction. The grammar, punctuation and spelling paper is now optional; we will inform you if the children are to take this test.. Their writing will also be assessed. You will be able to discuss these assessments with your child’s class teacher during the year. You will receive a copy of the results as part of your child’s end of year report.

If you would like more information on the tests please click on the link below:



At the end of Year 6, all children will sit the following tests in relation to English:

• Reading comprehension
• Spelling
• Punctuation and grammar
• Writing (not a formal test; this is assessed by the teachers)

You will receive a copy of your child’s results at the end of the summer term. A copy of your child’s results will also be sent to the Local Authority and to your child’s high school. High schools often use these results to set the children into ability groups and to predict their GCSE results.

Your child’s class teacher will let you know what the children need to practise at home at our regular parent meetings. Please speak to your child’s class teacher if you are unsure of what your child needs to learn.

If you would like more information on the tests please click on the link below:


Reading Rivers

Please click below to see what each year group reads in their journey as a reader in their time at Elmgrove.




Years 1, 2 and 3


Years 4, 5 and 6



The English policy as well as the Top Ten Tips for reading can be read if you click on the links below:


Top Tips for Reading